Woops, fist pumps and mega watt smiles are featured heavily today. Yippee.
WWW readers Ruth and Al tied the knot in a personal outdoor ceremony on the 1st August 2015 at Four Oaks Weddings in East Sussex. They followed with a festival style rave in a gorgeous tipi from Magical Tipis. Their whole celebration was super personal with all of their nearest and dearest contributing everything from the music, cake, light up lights and the delicious BBQ.
Ruth and Al looked so gorgeous in their chosen attire. Ruth found her lace gown at White Leaf Bridal which she teamed with pretty veil and rustic up do. Al donned a jacket and chinos with loafers and bow tie to complete his look.
Keep an eye out for the first dance shot… epic.
Thanks so much to the awesome Anna Pumer Photography for sharing these shots today.
THE PROPOSAL | Al always knew that one of my ultimate dreams was to see the Northern Lights (and secretly I couldn’t think of a more romantic setting for a proposal!), so when a ‘surprise’ trip to Iceland was planned for Christmas 2013 I was a little giddy! (He ended up telling me what was happening as surreptitiously packing all my warm clothes was going to be a little too obvious for a real surprise!)
Of course, the Northern Lights refused to play ball, and even though we tried every night, we didn’t catch a single glimpse the whole holiday! Al ended up proposing next to the stunning Gullfoss waterfall on our last day, and we celebrated by playing in the snow and visiting a spa…it was perfect. He presented me with a ‘place holder’ ring as I used to work in a jewellery shop and am fairly fussy about my jewellery, so we designed the real engagement ring together when we got home, with a jeweller in Hatton Gardens.
THE VISION | We quickly decided we wanted a big celebration with the people we loved best around us, and were influenced by long festival weekends with mates in the summer, and 3 day Indian weddings! With a slightly limited budget we had to get creative, and we decided that a tipi in a field with a massive all-inclusive rave in the evening was what we were after.
Our vision had always been to have the people around us heavily involved in the wedding, and this was certainly the case! We had so much support; my brother Sam and his partner Dave are both theatre technicians and spent until 3am the morning of the wedding designing a light show, not to mention making our light-up initials as a wedding gift; some of the groomsmen spent days driving the length and breadth of the country picking up all the audio visual equipment, and driving 10ft scaffold poles into the field to create the ambitious lighting rig designed by Al, not to mention the countless people who turned up the day before to help us set everything up!
Al also designed the whole menu single-handedly! Once we made the decision to self-cater (Al is a serious foodie) we knew it had to be a BBQ (Al once set a record of having 52 BBQs in one year). We hired some serious BBQs and our groomsman Harry spent the 4 days before working from Al’s spreadsheets to prep all the food, in the kitchens of the school where I work. On the day all the groomsmen chipped in and spent the day providing our guests with a delicious Texan style pit BBQ and shawarmas in the evening!
We literally couldn’t have had the wedding we wanted without our friends and family, and we’ll never be able to adequately express our gratitude to all of them for their help.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | Al loves a spreadsheet and I’m all about lists, so we were a planning force of nature! We planned every element together, which made the whole thing feel really special. It was our pet project for over a year! As time went by our ideas evolved and grew into a self-catered festival-style celebration which was going to take months to resource, days to set up, and was completely dependant on having good weather. What could go wrong!?
BUDGET | We were extremely lucky in that our families wanted to contribute to elements, such as the tipi and our attire, but otherwise we were keen to be able to pay for our wedding ourselves without getting into debt. The budget crept up over time from an initial estimate of £9000… quite a lot higher in fact, but we managed to stick to our plan of coming out the other side debt free… just!
THE VENUE | Four Oaks Farm in Hassocks, East Sussex. Living in Brighton, we wanted to find somewhere close by, and thought finding a field to “just stick a tent up in” was going to be a piece of cake. We were wrong! After months of searching we booked a pretty wild field with a half built eco house and converted double decker bus, and crossed our fingers that our decision would pay off and the field would be completed by the time our wedding rolled around. It didn’t! 10 months before the owner started having troubles with obtaining a permission to hold weddings on her site, and unfortunately we decided to pull out and look for somewhere different. Four Oaks Farm had just set up for hosting weddings, and was everything we wanted; a large green space with water and electricity provided, and a lake! It was a beautiful blank space to make our own.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | ‘Olga’ dress from White Leaf Boutique in Brighton and veil to match. Blanka, the shop owner, is well known amongst Brighton brides-to-be for putting you in a simple sheath dress, and then with pins and bulldog clips and scraps of lace transforming you into a bridal vision! She and her team were lovely throughout the whole process and I adored my dress. I just went for some simple nude wedges under the dress, as I didn’t fancy spending the whole day sinking into a field! (If one more person had said to me during the planning process; “Oh, you’re going to have to wear wellies!” I think I would have lost it!)
FINDING THE DRESS | ARGH this was fun!!! I relished the chance to try on some totally over the top (hello Ian Stuart!) and occasionally extremely inappropriate dresses with my mates, but the story of finding ‘the one’ was total fate.
At the very beginning of my search I had made a wedding dress Pinterest board (as you do) and pinned a grainy pic of a strapless mermaid style lace gown that made my heart do funny things. It was exactly what I envisaged. I loved the silhouette, and as it got closer to the time of booking dress appointments, I started digging to find out a bit more information about it. Turned out, it had been pinned from a British wedding blog… from a wedding shop in Brighton! In fact, the one and only dress shop I had booked an appointment in! I turned up to my appointment with my mum and inexpertly described the sort of thing I was after – the very first one the lovely sales assistant pulled from the rail was the exact one from Pinterest!!! When I put it on I felt like a bride, it was meant to be. Good old Pinterest.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Team Bragg. We agreed early on to keep our outfits a surprise from one another, so Al’s step-mum Maggie Bragg and her children (who are slightly more sartorially elegant than Al!) stepped in and took Al in hand! They found a pop up shop in Brighton’s lanes from a Savile Row Tailor – Richard James, where they picked up his blazer, and collaborated over the rest of his outfit, from his Reiss trousers to his Anglo American glasses. All the groomsmen wore ties that matched Al’s bow tie and pocket square from H&M. Al’s step-sister Bex cut and styled his hair on the day, and Maggie faux tanned his ankles for that finishing touch! He looked absolutely the most handsome thing I have ever seen.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Very early on we decided we wanted a humanist ceremony, so we started researching celebrants. As lovely as they seemed, none of them knew us, and we both wished we could just be married by someone close to us. When we realised that of course this was something we could do, there was only one person who we wanted to marry us. Phil and his wife Heather are two of my closest friends, and Heather was responsible for setting Al and I up! She was adamant I meet this guy she had worked with before, and when I finally agreed, Al came up from London to where I was living in Norwich for a cinema date that Heather booked for us! I had been at their house before the date, and Phil said if it all went wrong then to just ditch Al and come back round to theirs to drown my sorrows. The date went pretty reasonably however… Al ended up staying in Norwich for 5 days, and that was that!
Phil is one of the most emotional people I know, despite his tough physique he’s really a big ball of love, and as an experienced actor we knew he could work a crowd! What a blinder of a decision it turned out to be. Our ceremony was completely meaningful, totally personal, hilarious at times, and had me alternating between tears and laughter the whole time.
We have some extremely talented family and friends, notably Al’s little brother Andrew who is an actor, and one of my closest friends, Anna, a poet. We asked both of them to prepare something for the ceremony but gave them no more guidance than this, and boy they didn’t disappoint. Anna read a poem by Michael Donaghy, and Andrew’s adaptation of Dink’s Song, accompanied by our family friend Toby on guitar, left the entire congregation in tears. We were totally upstaged by the pair of them.
I walked down the ‘aisle’ to an instrumental version of Someone Like You by Vitamin String Quartet; when Al and I first met I taught him to play Adele’s version on the piano. Our first dance(s) were Des’ree Kissing You (corny but true), followed by Stevie Wonder For Once in My Life to get the dance floor jumping.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | My crack squad of bridesmaids were an unbelievable force of nature in the run up to the wedding, and especially on the proceeding day. They forced me to take half an hour out to practise some yoga in the late afternoon sun when they could see me practically vibrating with excitement/nerves/exhaustion the day before, and thank god they did!
Amy, Anna, Elsa and Kirsty were all mates from university, and Elspeth is Al’s (and now mine, woot!) sister… all with completely different skill sets and temperaments, they gelled as a team so so well, and looked STUNNING in their bridesmaid dresses. Shopping for their outfits was one of the most fun days of the whole planning process! We met on Oxford Street early on a Saturday morning (all internally trepidatious about the prospect of weekend Oxford Street shopping!) and I gave them a garbled brief of “blushes, creams and maybe some dove grey that sort of go together somehow”… they totally smashed it!
THE FLOWERS | Miss Mole’s Flower Emporium. Just for the name enough she’d be worth going with, but Barbara is totally approachable, fun and creative, and the flowers she provided us with were gorgeous! The bridesmaids carried bunches of white hydrangeas, and my bouquet was a fluffy mix of hydrangeas, stocks, tuberose, astilbe, lisianthus and freesias.
The day before the wedding Al’s mum and I visited a wholesalers and picked up additional flowers to decorate with, and we pulled off an absolute blinder… peonies… in August!!!! I couldn’t believe it; I’d always had my heart set on them for our wedding. The flower gods were smiling on us. My mum and our family friend Mel arranged them throughout the field… there was colour everywhere. Not surprising, with my mum.
My dad was involved too; being a very keen gardener I asked him to grow some succulents for us as table décor, and he definitely delivered! I loved them so much I took 6 home with me. One’s still alive. Not as green fingered as my dad.
THE CAKE | My Mum! My poor Mum, I think that cake nearly finished her off! We shared ideas and ended up deciding on a ‘simple’ white ruffle cake… which turned into a MASSIVE 3 tier ruffle cake (2 layers of lemon and gin and one of almond and orange) that had to make the precarious trip down from Nottingham in my parent’s car! Although it gave us a few frights and broke quite a few times, it looked completely stunning and was one of the most complemented parts of the whole wedding! My Mum is a hero.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | RUN and book Anna Pumer as your photographer if you’re still in need of one! Naively we initially asked a good photographer friend of ours to take the pics, before realising that we wanted him to be able to relax at our wedding and not feel like he was working all the time, so when we made the decision to hire someone we started trawling through the wedding photographer websites. I’m not quite sure how I came across Anna, but I was immediately drawn to her chatty website and her photos were so beautifully full of life and colour. After a meeting in a pub Al and I were both sold; Al is a camera man and knows his gear; he and Anna chatted away about ISOs and f stops while I leafed through her portfolio sighing to myself. Anna is incredible. It is honestly like having your mate with you snapping away; she is so easy going, open and fun and has the best ideas (Anna honestly wore swimming shorts under her outfit to our wedding knowing that there was going to be a lake)! And her photos are unbelievable. How she managed to capture as much as she did we’ll never know, but we’re so grateful she did! The best decision we made, hiring Anna. She and Al have continued to work together on a few projects since the wedding so we know she’s going from strength to strength in the industry; soon she’ll be booked up years in advance so get in there now!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Once we decided on tipis the styling sort of fell into place; a colour scheme of kraft paper brown (all the food was served in paper take away boxes to fit the festival vibe) with accents of gold and blush tones to complement the colour of the tipis.
I wanted to make as much as possible for the wedding myself, so spent hours hand stitching the lace bunting (with a generous amount made by Al’s mum!), folding countless paper pom poms, and designing and painting all the signage. Al’s sister is a talented illustrator who designed our invites for us, and my friend Ali donated her glittery tea light holders from her own wedding.
Al loves pyrotechnics so we decided to incorporate them by setting off a waterfall of gold sparks at the climax of our first dance (he’s a showman!). We managed to keep this secret from nearly everyone, although our photographer and Al had got together beforehand to practise with a similar set up, which hadn’t worked for them! Fortunately it went off without a hitch on the day, and after the sparks finished falling, the light show started, the music cranked up, and the whole dance floor was jammed in a matter of seconds! This moment in our wedding venue sends shivers down my spine!
THE HONEYMOON | The Maldives!!! 10 days in total paradise, snorkelling, eating, snoozing and getting pretty tanned (which disappeared approximately 3 days after arriving home).
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | There were so many it’s hard to pick any out, but walking down the aisle towards Al was a pretty emotional moment. We had practised the ceremony with all our friends the night before, but after days of heavy duty prepping, building and planning we were all a little over tired and hysterical! As I started walking on the wedding day, next to my Dad, surrounded by people I loved and in a venue that I had helped to design and build, it hit me like a ton of bricks that I was about to promise to love Al for the rest of my life.
Also, you can’t beat rounding off the night splitting your dress as you dance on a hay bale with your new mother-in-law to Feel the Love by Rudimental, as a confetti cannon goes off over the whole dance floor. That was pretty epic.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | The old clichés; spend your money on the best photographer you can afford, don’t sweat the small stuff, take some time just the two of you to soak in the day…BUT. Our biggest piece of advice would probably be to get as many people involved in the whole thing as you can. It just makes it so so special. We were fortunate to have an event where we did nearly everything ourselves so others were heavily involved in every aspect, but even just discussing the details, sharing your hopes and worries with those around you, or asking those close to you to contribute to the ceremony count. Make it a communal affair and it’ll add an extra dollop of love and togetherness to an already awesome day.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Anna Pumer Photography
Dress | White Leaf Bridal
Al’s outfit | Richard James
Tipis | Magical Tipis
Field | Four Oaks Weddings
Flowers | Miss Mole’s Flower Emporium
Make up | The Beauty Aisle
Audio visual equipment | Bigabox Productions
BBQ hire | BBQ Mates
Ruth and Al, thank you both so very much for sharing your wedding story here today xo Lou